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Athletic Soft-Tissue Injuries of the Hip

What Is the Hip?

The hip is a term frequently used to describe a large area of the body including the pelvis. The hip joint is the ball-and-socket joint where the ball-shaped top of the femur (the femoral head) fits into the “socket” (acetabulum) of the pelvis. This joint is surrounded by a joint capsule, muscles, and ligaments, increasing stability and facilitating function.

What Are Athletic Soft-Tissue Injuries of the Hip?

The most common injuries to the soft tissues of the hip occur in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Sprains, strains, and contusions, as well as tendonitis and bursitis, are common soft-tissue injuries. Often, these injuries occur during sports and exercise activities, but they can happen when performing simple everyday activities. This range of injuries can also include abdominal hernias and sports hernias.

Common Causes

Soft-tissue injuries fall into two basic categories: acute injuries and overuse injuries. Acute injuries are caused by a traumatic event, such as a fall, twist, or blow to the body. Sprains, strains, and contusions are examples of common acute injuries.

Overuse injuries occur gradually over time, when the joint undergoes repetitive stress without being given time to heal. Tendonitis and bursitis are common soft-tissue overuse injuries, but can also occur as a result of osteoarthritis.


Initially, a medical history and physical examination by a musculoskeletal expert should be completed. Diagnostic imaging like x-rays or MRI may be ordered and sometimes diagnostic image-guided injections, with the help of x-rays or ultrasound, may be helpful.

Treatment Options

Treatment depends on the injury and its severity, but typically starts with conservative treatment with physical therapy to strengthen the hip and core muscles and normalize the hip, pelvic, and lower spine dynamics and posture. Such treatment can also include targeted image-guided injections. Should conservative treatment fail, surgical options might include release of muscles, repair of tendons, or possibly hernia surgery by a general surgeon.

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